In a stunning move, the Yankees have signed Mark Teixeira to an 8 year, 180 million dollar contract with a full no-trade-clause. Wow! With this move, the Yanks now look like the frontrunners to win the World Series. They have spent over 400 million this offseason on 3 players. CC Sabathia, AJ Burnett, and now Mark Teixeira will be the next faces of the New York Yankees.
I can’t believe that the Yankees are raising payroll so high. They said that they wouldn’t be going above the 215 million they had committed last season, but this might change that. 140 million dollars was committed coming into the offseason. Arbitration raises will probably add on another 10 million or so. That left them with 150 million. The Nick Swisher trade tacked on about 5 million. After signing Sabathia to a contract worth 23 million per year, it left them with 178 million dollar payroll. Burnett’s 16.5 million and Teixeira’s 22.5 million bring totals to 217 million; more than last year. I don’t have any idea how they can add payroll in this kind of economy. This whole offseason, GM Brian Cashman has been saying that the team won’t raise payroll, but they just did. They don’t have any tradable pieces aside from Hideki Matsui. There’s no doubt that he will get traded to accommodate this move. Swisher will move from first base to left field, Johnny Damon will move from left field to DH, and Matsui will be dealt somewhere. The Yanks will have to eat probably about half of his contract to move him, however. His knees are all banged up, and his bat is slipping. I don’t know of anyone who would want him unless they have an open DH spot. I guess the Mariners could make an inquiry, but I don’t think that they would want to add a player like that for only one year. I could see them buying low and then possibly selling high at the trade deadline if Hideki establishes his health. If not Seattle, then maybe the Rays could pursue him. They would have to miss out on all their other free agent options, though. Plus, the Yankees probably don’t want to trade within their division. I can’t think of any great fit for him, but there’s bound to be some team willing to take him on for only around 7 million.
If they can dump Matsui it looks like they’ll just head into the season with a 110 million dollar payroll. It was possible they would do this anyway. Mike Cameron and Andy Pettitte could have been aquired for near 10 million each. Now that Tex is a Yankee, neither option seems likely. They Yanks will have to go into the season with Phil Hughes as the fifth starter and with Brett Gardner and Melky Cabrera platooning in center field. Still, I would much rather have that to go along with Tex instead of Matsui, Pettitte, and Cameron. I have no idea where Pettitte will go now that the Yankee door is shut. Maybe he’ll retire if he cannot find a place he’s comfortable. The Dodgers, Brewers, and Cardinals could make some sense, at least for the team.
So, since Tex will wear pinstripes instead of Red Sox, who will where Sox? Boston will not look for a hitter anymore; they feel that Tex would be the only upgrade significant enough to trade Mike Lowell for. I agree. For the defense and leadership Lowell brings to the table, I would rather keep him instead of getting a small offensive upgrade with a player like Adam Dunn or Pat Burrell. The starting pitching looks like the position to address, now. You’d have to think that Derek Lowe is the happiest man not named Teixeira that the latter will be in New York. That will open up a spot for Lowe in Boston, or at least make them bid against the Mets. Still, I would say that Lowe is most likely to sign with the BoSox now that Tex won’t.
The Nationals will also look into backup plans. It seems as though the Nats will now turn their attention to Adam Dunn and Orlando Hudson. They will probably bid aggressively against the Angels for Dunn’s services, but I wouldn’t mind signing Hudson instead. There has been no interest at all shown for O-Dawg, so the Nats could get him at a rather cheap price. The Cardinals, Indians, and Giants just don’t make sense anymore. If Washington can sign him for, say, 3 years, 18 million, it will be a great deal. Much smarter than giving away 50 million+ to Dunn, or 180 million+ to Teixeira. I wouldn’t fault the Nats for waiting until next offseason to make their splash. In fact, that’d be the way I would go if Hudson doesn’t come cheap.
Now that the Yanks have added CC, Tex, and AJ, are they the best team in the MLB? Or even in the AL East for that matter? In my opinion, New York has a better rotation than the Rays, but not the Red Sox if the latter add Derek Lowe. New York probably has the best offense now with the addition of Mark Teixeira. There are some major question marks, though. Jorge Posada was hurt last year, and Nick Swisher and Robinson Cano are coming off of terrible years. The center field situation still isn’t sorted out, either. I could see Swish and Cano bouncing back, and the Yanks still could get some solid offense out of Posada. The defense will be bad, but you can live with that. The Red Sox have some question marks in their lineup, too. Mike Lowell was just hurt, and Jacoby Ellsbury and Jed Lowrie weren’t great. Plus, Ortiz is coming off an injury and doesn’t have the big protection he used to. With no Manny Ramirez or no Mark Teixeira batting behind him, you might see Ortiz’s bat fall off a cliff. The catcher situation remains unresolved, and it looks like they’ll have to go back to Jason Varitek. So both teams have question marks in their lineups. It is going to be very close this year, but I give the edge to the Yankees for the division, and the edge to the Red Sox for the Wild Card. The Rays are one of my favorite teams, but I don’t like their chance of repeating.
By the way, the Yankees should take the field to Darth Vader’s theme song.